The Palo Alto High School football team (1-3, 0-0) failed to snap out of its recent offensive struggles, falling to the Palma High School Chieftains (4-0, 0-0) 35-7 on Friday night, despite a notable change in the offensive lineup.
Junior quarterback Justin Hull started the game in place of junior Oliver Svirsky, the team’s starting quarterback during the its first three games. Hull, a team captain, braved through several rough hits and instigated a few solid drives for the Vikings. Head coach Jake Halas credits Hull’s work ethic and attitude every game to the quarterback switch.
“He’s a gamer,” Halas said after the loss. “That’s why he’s in there at quarterback. We made the [quarterback] move because on game day, that kid shows up. Number five shows up to play.”
Even with Hull running the offense, the Chieftains defense held the Vikings scoreless until senior running back Jayshawn Puckett finally broke through for a 23-yard touchdown rush with 9:09 left in the game. Despite watching the Chieftains take full control of the game early in the fourth quarter, Puckett is proud of the way that the team stuck together and kept playing until the end.
“Our team kept fighting and pushing,” Puckett said. “We just kept fighting and tried to make something happen, something positive. I can say that we worked more as a team tonight, something that we’ve been struggling do.”
The Chieftains offense, highlighted by sophomore phenom tailback Emilio Martinez, struck for four overpowering touchdowns in the first half. Martinez accounted for three of the team’s five touchdowns, sprinting into the end zone in a variety of ways, including a screen pass and an inside run.
The Vikings turned the ball over to the Chieftains four times, which continuously crushed any hopes of a Vikings rally. Despite the team’s continuous struggles, Hull feels that the team is making improvements and is playing better than what the score might indicate.
“We played hard,” Hull said. “The first half was closer than what the scoreboard said. The second half we played pretty well actually. We battled and that’s all you can really ask for.”
The Vikings will host the Wilcox High School Chargers (2-1, 0-0) for their first division game of the season at 7 p.m. on Friday, Oct. 3 at Hod Ray Field.